Monday, November 25, 2013

Benefits Of Creating Video Lectures & Screencasts-Andover High School Instructional Technology

In the beginning of the school year I had a teacher who is not going to be able to attend parents night but really wanted to connect with parents who came. Our solution for this problem was to have the teacher create a video lecture which contained all the major components of what he spoke about on parents night. The video lecture also contained a link to a public Google document which contained all the necessary forms that he wanted to get out to parents to know about. We then uploaded the video to YouTube which enable to another user to a play the video for what his parents showed up over the course of the evening.

This parents night experience was an interesting way to introduce the power of video lectures to a teacher. By learning how to screen cast lectures teachers can actually increase the amount of time that they have to do other lesson planning or introduction of key concepts to students. Video lectures do need some planning and should contain all the details that you want to have included in a regular lesson lecture. It is also important to require students to take notes and be prepared for a discussion.

It makes a huge difference how much time you spend practicing and preparing for the video lecture. A video lecture which is well-prepared and timed appropriately should include all the components that they would in a regular lesson but can also include links to web based surveys,documents or videos. A video lecture can be loaded with links or assessments which students can prepare for classroom sharing and communication. Performing a few practice run throughs will also improve the quality of your voice and detail to which you can talk about things.

The best part of video lectures is that the tools to make them are free and readily available on the web. My favorite tool for creating video lectures and presentations is Screen Cast O-Matic. I started off with the free version of the software and was very impressed and allowed me to create presentations videos which were 15 minutes in length. I was able to share them and also upload them to YouTube so that I always had a place that I can link them from what I share with my students more quickly. There is also a pro version of screen cast O-Matic for $15 a year. I recommend this version if you are really into adding text, editing your videos more concisely or longer recording time. The pro version also removes of the watermark on the screen that says Screen Cast O-Matic.

If you use the iPad your courses you're definitely going to want to check out an app called Educreations. This application allows you to record on your iPad screen and import images create text and do a variety of speaking over what is projected onto your iPad screen. I recommend this application especially if you work on the elementary level and have some key lessons with you continually use over and over again. If you do a great job of planning out your lessons that you want to show on educreations they could be a great resource for you and also for other teachers you can find them available on the web.

With the development of online classrooms using the flip classroom model I think you going to see more and more teachers using screen cast or video based lectures. This type of sharing of your lectures is great to share your work as well as enable students to have access to your lessons anywhere they go. YouTube is very friendly to uploading these lectures along with allowing you to tag them and make them easily searchable on the web. This feature makes it easy to use YouTube as a homepage for all your video lectures. On Youtube you can then tag them and organize them into playlists.

At Andover high school I have had several teachers create video lectures for their classrooms. video lectures can help increase engagement for students in and out of the classroom. Just remember that isn't it is important to prepare accordingly for how long your presentations going to be what content you want to cover. Also, have a strategy for how you're going to share these with your students quickly and easily. Think about linking them to existing course management systems or even just having a YouTube page where you can find them all.

Personally I like using videos as a form of assessment for student work. I love having the ability to have students sit down and create a voiceover showing the work they've created on the web. This could be how students present a PowerPoint show a website design or even discuss a particular talk it topic using other web based presentation formats. I feel that with screencasts students can talk clearly and concisely about what they want to create and can also show their deep knowledge of what they've been working on. It's also a great opportunity to have students add their personal voice to what they've created. I have included two links to video lectures that teachers have made in my school. If you're more interested in using it as an assessment tool feel free to visit my YouTube page where I have samples of videos in which rubrics are included. There are also videos which show specific components of the rubrics and videos in which students describe the process of completing a project.



Sunday, November 24, 2013

Integrating Google Docs Into The French Foreign Language Classroom-Andover High School Instructional Technology

Editing the document collaboratively.
I recently had the opportunity to assist a French teacher with introducing Google Docs for creating a survey in his French classroom. Prior to me coming to his classroom and working with his students  we discussed how we could use Google Docs so that students could share surveys that they create in French with each other easily and streamline the process of having availability all of the surveys available on the web organized by class. This teacher was very open to the different possibilities of using Google Docs for integrating these surveys in his classroom. 

Foreign Language Lab
Prior to me coming to his classroom the students typed up the surveys in Word document format. To assist this teacher I came into the classroom to coteach and show the students how to create a Google form and how to edit the different types of questions and explain how they had many options. Students learned how to create a form, change the name of the form as well as choose a template for the appearance. Even though I knew Google Docs to be very popular tool amongst high school students I was very surprised that many had not created a form before. The students did a great job working within the Google interface and the options for forms is very intuitive and allows them to choose the different types of questions(multiple choice,text,paragraph,checkboxes,choose from a list). Form questions also enable for adding help text to each question and also gave an options for whether or not the question was required or not.

One of the most interesting components of this 
Adding the accent codes.
lesson was teaching students how to add the accent to specific letters in the French language using the American keyboard. We used a webpage with the keyboard shortcuts on the board to assist students with what they needed to type in order to get the accent to show. Many students entered their survey questions in a very expedient way and successfully created their forms. I then was able to show them the live link in which they could then share their form with anyone. I had them copy their link and add it to a document in which I shared with them. Students enjoyed editing the document collaboratively and seeing live the addtion of each survey to the shared document. The final document had all of their surveys links and names on it. I shortened this link and made it so the French teacher could then share these surveys with another class in France to comlete so that the American students could review the responses. 

The students in this class were now easily able to share their surveys with each other and were able to practice creating them using a tool which was intuitive and allowed them to create a variety of questions(multiple choice,text,paragraph,checkboxes,drop down,grid,choose from a list,scale). The sharing feature is valuable in that a variety of settings can be set once and editing by different people can be controlled. The person who created the form or anyone else can edit or not based on the settings. The form can be made available to the public or kept private. Google enables specific editing features for each document created. 

The opportunity to use the language lab was a great benefit to this group of students. This lesson could be done in any computer lab or classroom which has internet access. Google Docs provides a great free way to create surveys or web-based forms in which you can collect data about a variety of subjects. It is very user-friendly and with just a few simple steps can be applied to almost any classroom. It can be used to help with assessment by creating test or quizzes or even in a flipped classroom model so that students can answer questions at home and then have a discussion about them when they get to school.

Friday, November 22, 2013

An Introduction To Net Texts Online/Flipped Lassroom Learning Platfrom

The uniqueness of Net Texts is the ease of applying outside content to the organization of units or lessons online. Net Texts enables students and teachers to work from one portal and simplifies the process for teachers who want to work from one device or are part of a district 1:1 implementation. Net Texts has integrated a variety of different tools from the web such as Khan Academy,CK-12 and made these resources easily searchable for teachers. The interface allows for adding content in an organized efficient ways and streamlines the process of adding videos,lectures and course documents and assessments in purposeful and meaning full ways online. Teachers have access to existing web based course collections as well as the opportunity to design the course from the bottom up using resources collated from the web.

The Net Texts students view on devices(Android,Ipad application) is organized and clearly outlines the course content,videos and documents. Teachers can receive emailed spreadsheets of student results in their portal as well. Like many current note taking applications Net Texts interfaces are consistent between devices and enables students to quickly add notes and find course materials efficiently.

Net Texts is ideal for districts looking for a singular interface for students to interact with course content and also streamlines how teachers organize online content. This tool is ideal for balancing the learning curve for teachers in creating a flipped classroom mode and enables sharing,content management and specific subject area materials. This tool is even more beneficial for teachers who truly know how they want to organize their flipped model and can draw their course materials from previous materials(speadsheets,docs,pdf) and have a strong plan for the organization of lessons and what resources will be necessary to teach a lesson and keep it aligned as they move forward. Newer teachers would want to plant specifically around the content they may want for their course before they fully committed to designing the course. 

The application has a main dashboard which allows teachers to mange what content and what web based materials support the flipped classroom instruction. Different flipped models could be used with this tool as well and instruction could be based on singular components of media being assigned for homework and then viewed in class or a teacher could develop a hybrid based on the accessibility of tablets or computers for student access and use Net texts as tool to assit in connecting to specific material.

Ultimately it is still up to the teacher to create the collaboration this tool would bring to the classroom. Teachers need to find resources which support their instruction or have additional professional development which supports them in creating screencast videos or managing a variety of web based documents such as pdf's,images and docs. 

Net texts supports the integration of OER resources(open education resources) in order to help organize teachers in developing content and choose sources. Some of these source which can benefit a Net Texts users are CK-12 for the sciences,,Khan Academy and the OER Commons located at . Net texts is looking to assist in applying these resources to their platform as quickly as possible to assist in integration of their platform.

One of the largest  benefits for this platform is the ever evolving development of trusted web based materials which teachers can search and utilize quickly to develop a new course or assist a teacher created lesson.  After attending a training with the Net Texts Marketing staff I could recognize their commitment to embracing the use of the Creative Commons and building in this important component into their tool. Their staff highlighted in their presentation several videos and engaged in rich discussion about this feature. I have included links to this information as well as Net Texts youtube video.
Mowhawk Video video on Creative Commons
Net Texts 

This blog post post was based on a training provided by Net Texts at the Marshall Simonds Middle School in Burlington,Massachusetts on November 21 2013.